Lucas Oil Stadium is the home of the Indianapolis Colts, the place that future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning built, and the place franchise quarterback Andrew Luck currently resides. It’s the home to the illustrious NFL Scouting Combine, and now they can welcome the best-kept secret in pro football to its community.
The biggest addition to the Colts roster this offseason wasn’t a big named wide receiver or an impact pass-rusher. It was a right tackle from the Detroit Lions by the name of Gosder Cherilus.
Cherilus grew up playing soccer in a little country in the Caribbean called Haiti. Oddly big for a soccer player, it was his passion nonetheless. Later Cherilus moved to the greater Boston area, and little did he know all those years of soccer playing would become extremely beneficial to his eventual calling: Football. Having good feet is a requirement for being an effective offensive lineman at the NFL level. Cherilus’ soccer exploits were essential to the development of his positional footwork.
A Boston College product, Cherilus seemed to always be in the right place at the right time. As a red-shirt freshman, he enjoyed an apprenticeship behind Chris Snee, a Pro Bowl guard for the New York Giants, Jeremy Trueblood, an eventual second-round pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers now with the Washington Redskins, and Jim Marten, a former third-round pick by the Dallas Cowboys. Although Cherilus was red-shirted, he was second on the depth chart, traveling to every game, and one injury away from being thrown into the proverbial fire.
Cherilus became a four-year starter at Boston College and also started in 50 consecutive games, which is an astonishing accomplishment considering the amount of injuries sustained in football. During his college years, Cherilus was able to perfect his craft by battling Mathias Kiwanuka everyday in practice. Kiwanuka was an eventual first-round pick to the New York Giants and two-time Super Bowl champion currently with the team.
Cherilus’ work didn’t stop there. Known for his work ethic and for being an all around competitor, he dominated the big name defensive ends in the ACC. The likes of Mario Williams, Chris Long, Manny Lawson, Calais Campbell, Michael Johnson, and Everette Brown all submitted to the wrath of Cherilus. College football and the NFL are two very different games, but all the players aforementioned became high draft choices in the NFL. What does that say about Cherilus’ pedigree?
Cherilus was a first-round pick in his own right. He was the No. 17 overall pick in the 2008 NFL draft to the Lions. For his high standards, he struggled his rookie season mostly due to the ineptitude of the squad, and that year, the Lions infamously went 0-16, which ranks as the worst record in NFL history. Part of his struggle was due to the fact that he played right tackle his whole career at Boston College, until his senior season, where he was forced to switch to left tackle to accommodate sensational true-freshman Anthony Castonzo.
Moving back to right tackle his rookie year with the Lions was an adjustment that Cherilus had to make on the fly and a challenge he relished personally. Cherilus, now settled at the right tackle position, has made a name for himself in the NFL and is known as one of the best run-blocking offensive tackles in the game. Interestingly enough, Cherilus is now reunited with Castonzo. Cherilus signed a five-year deal for $35 million with $16.5 million guaranteed this March with the Colts, while Castonzo was selected by the Colts with the No. 22 overall pick in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft. I would venture to say that Castonzo has learned a thing or two from Cherilus during their time together at BC.
Luck would only have to ask Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons what type of player Cherilus is and the intensity that he brings to the game every play. Ryan was fortunate enough to have Cherilus and Castonzo protecting him his senior season at BC, which no doubt gave Ryan a comfort knowing he had two future first-round picks protecting him.
The Colts knew if they wanted to take the next step they had no choice but to upgrade the right tackle position. A consummate professional and class act on and off the field, Cherilus is without a shadow of a doubt that upgrade.